New year, new phone, new start

Well the run up to Christmas was very busy with completing orders, making stock for fairs, attending fairs & making Christmas presents. As I only started selling in Feb I hadn’t done a Christmas as a maker/seller before, so it was all very new to me, I learnt a lot & it was quite a juggling act. All very enjoyable though and I attended some great events and met some great people.

So now it’s the new year it’s time to take stock, look back at all I’ve done and learnt in the last year, and plan how I’m going to move forward this year. Not only in business terms, but also in my personal life and health. It’s time to grab hold of life again and sort out all those things that I’ve been putting off or got put on the backburner.

So the first thing I sorted was a new phone! I’ve been putting off that decision for several years, plus I thought I couldn’t afford a fancy smart phone, and thought it was an unnecessary expense. But as my old phone was dying, I had some xmas money & I was starting to feel the need for a phone with more features & WiFi, I thought I’d take the plunge and sort it out. What else is the gap between Christmas and New year for?!!

Anyway, I got a really good deal on a Sony Xperia J, on orange contract, for the same per month as I was spending on PayG. Plus I got cashback through topcashback. Plus as it was the sales the phone and tariff were both on a special deal/reduced! Bargain!! I read a couple of reviews and just went for it. I ordered it Friday night, it was delivered yesterday (wednesday) morning, and so far I’m really impressed with it! Although registering the sim/swapping number from PayG sim wasn’t as easy as it was made out to be. It wouldn’t register online (not sure why), took a lengthy phonecall to sort out, and 16hrs for my new sim to register. And I’m still waiting for the number to switch over!

As I’ve been at home I logged onto the network by Wi-Fi very quickly and easily and have been busy downloading apps and playing with features. So far it’s mostly been used for games and Facebook & Twitter, but I hope to find more ways of using it to enhance my business & crafting. I have also ordered a card payment gadget from worldpay, which I hope to use at fairs to take card payments aswell as cash! I’ll blog again about that when it arrives!

So this is my first blog from my new phone! I hope to blog more regularly now, as it’s so much easier/I don’t have to be at my laptop! Although this has taken me much longer to write as I’m still getting used to using a touch screen and fairly small on-screen keyboard! I’ve also had some interesting words pop up on the predictive text options bar! And some interesting words accidentally automatically appear in my blog! So if there are some weird words and typos, I’m sorry!!

I hope you’ve all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year and are looking forward to a great 2013!!!

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Branding and Packaging, The MessyMuppet way…

Building the Messymuppet Brand Identity…

My skills lie in making jewellery, crocheting and knitting and I have a very creative brain, useful for thinking of ways to use all sorts of things I find and things that people throw away.

But I am not a marketing guru and had no experience in selling, no experience in branding and had completely focused on creating the products. So when I did my first stall it opened up a whole new scary world of how to set up the stall, price labels, logos, business names & how to package the items once bought..

I could just buy price labels, price cards, paper bags… but that’s just not me…. I’d like to develop my own style, my own identity & do it as ecologically friendly/recycled as possible…

Essential Kit:-

My personalised self-inking stamp from vistaprint. It was a bargain (well free, with only the cost of postage), and as I went through topcashback I got cashback too, which covered the postage cost! 🙂 You can sign up for topcashback Here

Packaging small items/jewellery:-

My Aunt said that when she was in France and has bought things on markets they always come in a small handmade envelope with a sticker on of the business name, complete with curled ribbons & she thought this was a nice touch…. I thought about handmaking some envelopes, potentially by from old paper/magazines, but at the time I thought this may be too time intensive….

When I was shopping I happened to see some small brown money envelopes + thought they’d be perfect, plus by buying them from “Home Bargains” they were a bargain!

I made a stamp from an old cotton reel and a couple of buttons superglued on, then got busy with some ink and another couple of stampers and of course my personalised Made By Messymuppet stamp.

These little envelopes are perfect for jewellery, keyrings and hair grips/hair clips and mean that things that don’t have tags on, like button bracelets, friendship bracelets and charms always go home in something that has my business name, email and website on. I’ve found that everyone has really liked them, and thought them a nice touch, and little girls buying the friendship bracelets like to have one, even though they immediately have the friendship bracelet on their wrist. This little envelope often goes in their pocket, bag (or mum’s bag) for later, to put it in for safe keeping when they take it off!

<– Some of my beautiful envelopes
My envelope stamping kit –>

Jewellery Gift Boxes

Last Christmas I found a great pattern for origami gift boxes on the Eden Project website here as they were publishing fun Christmas ideas and activities, a different one each day, in the build up to Christmas.
They were particularly perfect with square Christmas cards, although the pattern needs some refining as I found the difference they suggested between the top and bottom too much as the bottom of the box then ended up too loose. They also work really well with birthday/valentines/thankyou/mother’s day cards, although I now need a stack of old cards to make boxes for all occasions.

If sent in the post these boxes require small packet post as they are too thick for ‘Large Letter’ post, so this adds extra cost onto the p+p prices, but they do work well with online sales, when offered as an extra, as they add a special touch, particularly when bought as a gift.

Some of the boxes I’ve made……

Larger Items/Paper Bags

When I diversified and made lots of my photo frames, whilst in Devon, I then had a packaging problem as I now needed to cater for larger items. My Mum came up with the solution. She had lots of A4 white envelopes that they’d had for their business that were no longer sticky and no good for posting things. So she cut off the tops for me, stamped them with my ‘Made By Messymuppet’ stamp, small button stamp and a big button stamp and they work perfectly as paper bags! The big button stamp she made out of an old mousemat stuck on a jar lid.

<—- Paper Bags
Close up of the stamp —->

Business Cards

At first I printed my own business cards at home, but when my friend ordered Moo Cards and gave me some to have on my stall to advertise her business as I had borrowed some of her vintage crockery jewellery stands, I got serious Business card envy!! So I ordered some! There are several offers around where you can get free business cards from Moo, through Folksy, Paypal and Facebook, are the ones I know about, but there are probably others! It takes quite a while to find some suitable photographs, upload them, sort out a logo and what info you want on there + rearrange it all etc. But it’s certainly worth spending the time doing this, and whatever program/website you use to design your business cards you will still need to do this! But the results are fantastic! The cards came very very quickly after ordering, far quicker than the estimated time, and just look amazing. So amazing that I was reluctant to give my cards away at events!! The advantage of Moo is that you can have photos of your products on the cards, and you can have several different designs. This works particularly well for me as I have so many different types of products, so people were able to choose a card relevant to the items that particularly interested them.
You can get 10% off your first order by following this link:-

My ideas are still developing, so if anyone has any other packaging ideas or suggestions of logos I’d love to hear them….

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Summer in Devon

At the end of July I travelled back down to my parent’s house in Devon, complete with a lot of my crafting supplies/equipment and items for up-cycling….

Who knew I could fit so much stuff in a Ford Focus??!! The boot really does seem to be like Mary Poppin’s bag! lol This isn’t all of it, a rather large suitcase and a few more bags had already gone upstairs to my room! And I could see all the way through the car and even had the boot lid in!

So, I’ll now be in Devon for the summer crafting and doing events and fairs down here and possibly a carboot sale too. It’ll be interesting to see the difference in taste down here and different types of events. My items are still available to buy through my facebook page, and my website is still in progress, but the shop should be up and running soon. If you’re local to South Devon (South Hams) you may see me at an event near you soon, or I’m happy to make local deliveries for free. If you are organising a local event I’d love to hear about it and consider coming along.

First Devon Craft Fair/Event…

Hope Cove Life Boat summer Fair

My first Devon event was Hope Cove Life Boat Summer Fair last Thursday (9th Aug). the day started off misty here, but the mist soon burned off and by the time I drove down the lanes and arrived at The Cottage Hotel it was a beautiful sunny day. The event didn’t start till 12pm, and there seemed to be a good mix of locals and holiday makers and my items got a good reception 🙂 I met some other great stall holders and crafters and having a stall in a beautiful hotel where you could stand and stare out of the big windows overlooking the beach and sea, whilst drinking tea out of a china cup and saucer was certainly different! The Summer fair was punctuated by an Auction and then the Raffle. It raised a large amount of money for the hope Cove Life Boat and was a great event to be a part of.

Second Devon Event…

Frogmore Regatta

My first outside event and first experience of a fete/regatta was Frogmore Regatta last Sunday 12th August. The day was mixed weather with strong wind = flying business cards, price labels and photo frames, and sunshine mixed with heavy sudden showers = sudden rush of people under the gazebo to find shelter! The event started at 11:30am and finished well after 6pm, the longest event i’ve done so far. It was a fun day with various stalls and games, food and a bar/pimm’s tent, plus cream teas/BBQ. The stage was just in front of out stall, and behind the stall was an area set aside for family races/tug of war, and further behind that was the estuary, pontoon and canoeing/rowing/rowing races/raft race and later on the mud race. People tended to just wander around the Regatta in no fixed route, past both sides of the stall, through the stall and as most people were there for the whole day they took their time to visit all the stalls, often returning to purchase later/recommend friends etc. Then there was country dancing with ‘Up the Creek’ band and later there was a Zumba display/session on the stage, so there was plenty to watch and listen to even from my stall, whilst drinking Pimms and eating a hot pork roll, or Lemon drizzle cake from Frogmore Bakery! A very relaxed and enjoyable day, plus met loads of great people, and plenty of people who know my mum and dad but hadn’t seen me for years! 🙂 And the first event I’ve managed to do with my Mum and Dad 🙂 it was nice having my mum around to help, and my Dad drove us there so that I could drink, then came back later to pick us up (and brought me food/drink!). Thanks for having me Frogmore, can’t wait for next year!!

My next planned event is a stall in the Craft Tent at Kingsbridge Show on Saturday 1st September 9:30am till 5pm ish
And this year’s event will have The South West regional heat for ITV’s “Food Glorious Food” filmed at the show!
If you are around in the South West/South Hams you should come along, have a great day, and remember to pop into the Craft tent to say hello and maybe pick up some gifts/treats for yourself and your home and maybe some early Christmas presents!

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Sheet Music, Old Maps, A dog called Snoopy and a little girl called Matilda…

Sorry I haven’t written a Blog for a while, the plan is to write these regularly to keep a track of my venture and adventures, discoveries and new creations and to follow my progress…

But so far my time seems to be being swallowed up by concerts, craft fairs, travelling between Bolton and South Devon, crafting, website building, facebook page updating, networking (the list is endless) I could also do with a smart phone or tablet that I can write blogs on other than having to rely on my laptop…

I thought I’d update you on some more photo frames, as they seem to have been really popular and have sparked a lot of interest…

When I was in Devon I was lucky to find some old sheet music in a charity shop, it was torn, missing front covers, or just odd sheets and was unplayable and calling out to be upcycled…

These frames/artwork have been produced by me, by hand, hand cut with craft knives! 
And these were some that I sold at a craft fair recently…
I also had the chance to visit a Church Book Fair, and a couple of charity shops, so have a big pile of books waiting to be used! Win win as I get to support local charities, and give new life to some unloved books!

Matilda framed picture
Charles Dickens Oliver Twist frame

The Simpsons Frame
Watership Down frame

I also had a chance to make some more James and The Giant Peach Framed Pictures, as I managed to find lots of frames when in Devon.
James & The Giant Peach framed picture
James & the giant Peach framed Picture

My mum managed to find a couple of old Maps, a Lake District 1973 map, and a Buxton one.
Buxton Map Photo frame
I sold the Lake District Frame at the BCA Craft Fair, but this Buxton one is still available, and more frames can be made to order (depending on availability of frames).
When I was in Clitheroe the other day, visiting my Grandma, I popped in to Clitheroe Books and managed to get a “Very good Deal” on some old maps that were too damaged to sell. So I now have lots of lovely maps to use, so exciting!! 
I have abandoned the spray varnish as it was too wasteful and too expensive, and didn’t cover many frames, and am currently using a tin that my Mum had (more recycling/reusing!). So I am still experimenting with different varnishes (I didn’t realise there were so many types!!), different techniques, different frames, so every frame is different, and may show some imperfections, but this shows that they are truly handcrafted. And am still trying to tackle the problem of bubbles in varnish!!! 😉
Photo Frames and Framed pictures for sale on my Stall at the BCA Craft Fair, Last drop Village, 1/7/12
But you can see the time and effort I have gone to to create truly unique frames that would suit a wide variety of people and homes and would work so well as Gifts for all sorts of different people!! and look forward to making many more of these in the future.
Here are the resources I currently have that can be made into Frames/framed pictures to order (depending on frames):-
MAPS – Lake District; Buxton; Land’s End; Norwich; Taunton & Lyme Regis; Eastbourne; The Solent; London NW; London NW; The Chilterns; Plymouth; Bedford & Luton; North Wales

SHEET MUSIC – various odd sheets

BOOKS – Captain Correlli’s Mandolin; Oliver Twist; Watership Down; Harry Potter 
CHILDRENS BOOKS – Paddington, Matilda, James & The giant Peach, Snoopy, The Simpsons

My frames and framed pictures are available for sale through my facebook page, will soon be available on website, or contact me for a custom order….
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Photo Frames, Old Books and Bees Wax….

Recently I was giving away some of my books to a charity book shop, and I discovered a copy of Captain Correlli’s Mandolin that had completely fallen apart, the pages were falling out, and it would be no good to anybody. I hate throwing anything away, particularly books, so I had a think, came up with an idea and started to experiment…
With sections of text from book and layers of varnish
I added sections of text with PVA Glue, added the Book title, then layer upon layer of varnish.
The finished frame! 🙂
It worked rather well, so I bought a can of spray varnish and made a few more…..
Crossword Puzzles from a magazine

James and The Giant Peach plus picture from book

Another James and The Giant Peach Frame and picture, in Large frame.
It’s amazing what you can create from a few plain photo frames and some creativity!!

Start with a plain, basic photo frame….
A Layer of silver paint
With a thin layer of silver paint
With Bees Wax
Then add some decoration…..

HAMA Bead cats decorations

And put them on my stall at the craft fair….

They worked really well, and were well received, so when I have some more frames I plan to make some more! I still have those in the picture above for sale, you can contact me if interested, or watch this space for my new website/online shop….

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